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Bear with ‘death sentence’ approved for sanctuary


by Dana Gentry, Nevada Current

Public outcry over the fate of an overweight Lake Tahoe bear just trying to scratch out a living in the unsecured garbage of the Tahoe Keys has prompted a reprieve from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, according to Ann Bryant, Executive Director of the BEAR League, a California non-profit dedicated to keeping bears safe. 

Last week, the Current reported a docile bear known by some as Jake and by others as Yogi was being sought by CDFW, which had set a trap in the Keys to capture and destroy the bruin.   

A neighborhood effort at sabotage ensued, with residents taking turns standing watch to scare away the bear and others playing music, according to sources who asked not to be named. Someone spray painted ‘Bear Killer’ on the government’s trap.  

Bryant believes it was the public pressure that prompted CDFW to grant her request to trap and transfer Jake/Yogi to an out-of-state sanctuary. The BEAR League has placed three younger bears at the same sanctuary. 

But sanctuaries are not the answer to the area’s bear issue. 

“We can’t gather them all up and take them to sanctuaries. First of all, it’s not possible. Bears can live 30 to 35 years. They’re expensive to take care of and they eat a lot. There are not enough sanctuaries in the world. And it’s not natural.”  

The Keys, until recently, prohibited residents from securing garbage in bear boxes “because they’re unsightly,” says Bryant. “Now they’ve got bashed in garage doors, broken kitchen doors, broken glass windows, and garbage strewn all around all summer long. That’s not unsightly?” 

“Homeowners and visitors need to do their part to keep the bears out of trouble so they can live wild and free,” she says, adding the public should not think that if a bear becomes a problem, “he can just go to a sanctuary. That’s not the message we want to get out there. This bear was given a death sentence.” 

Bryant implores residents and visitors to secure their garbage, and not leave food in garages or cars. “The various reasons that the bears get into trouble is because people do this and they teach the bears that’s a good way to make a living.” 

Bryant says Jake/Yogi, once captured, will be transported in a “beautiful rig” to the sanctuary, with expenses paid by the BEAR League.  She’s hoping Tahoe Keys residents, who she says are responsible for the bear’s plight, will pitch in.

Nevada Current is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Nevada Current maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Hugh Jackson for questions: [email protected] Follow Nevada Current on Facebook and Twitter.

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